What is Teledentistry?

11 Jun 2019 - Haley Johnson

Teledentistry is the official term for using telehealth practices and tactics such as “the use of electronic information, imaging and communication technologies, including interactive audio, video, data communications as well as store and forward technologies, to provide and support dental care delivery, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, transfer of dental information and education” (ADTA).

Current state of the industry

While the concept of telemedicine emerged in the 1960s, teledentistry came about more recently around 1994 with the launch of Total Dental Access, a project by the Department of Defense aiming “to improve patient access, increase dental education, and promote communication between dentists and labs” (Derr). Since then, it has gained traction and in January 2018, two CDT codes were added to the code mentioning teledentistry, indicating the profitability and increased use of the service. The American TeleDentistry Association was founded in May 2018. The ATDA sponsored the first annual Teledentistry conference this past weekend in Rochester, NY.

American Dentistry Association (ADA) has laid out four teledentistry methods for communication with patients in a comprehensive guide:

  1. Live video interaction between a person and a provider
  2. Store-and-forward transmission of recorded health information (i.e. x-rays, photos, videos, and impressions belonging to the patient) through a secure communications system to a doctor who will evaluate the situation outside of a live interaction
  3. Remote patient monitoring, where personal health and medical data collection from an individual in one location is transmitted to a provider in a different location for related support of care
  4. Mobile health - health care, public health practice and education supported by mobile communication devices such as cell phones, tablets, and computers

Opportunities for Practices

Since teledentistry is still in its infancy, it has the potential to revolutionize the way dentists communicate with patients. Patients are becoming increasingly reliant on technology and prefer to communicate via text rather than over the phone. Furthermore, providers are struggling to maintain retention rates, as they are losing customers to telehealth platforms that offer quick answers to dental issues without the hassle of scheduling an appointment.

Teledentistry has the capacity to improve retention by allowing pre-existing patients of offices to communicate with their dentist outside of bi-annual cleaning appointments, increase the profitability of offices by reaching clients in rural areas, and better align with patients desired form of communication. It is evident that the teledentistry industry will only continue to grow as new t echnologies emerge and more dentists adopt telemedicine platforms into their practices.

Jot Health is on the forefront of teledentistry by offering a service to dental clients and allowing them to reap the benefits that exist in the market.

References

“Teledentistry: An Exciting New Tool in Our Arsenal.”
Derr, Eileen. DentistryIQ, 3 Aug. 2018.

ADA Guide to Understanding and Documenting Teledentistry Events
D9995 And D9996 – American Dental Association , 17 July 2017.

“Facts About Teledentistry.” American Teledentistry Association